Why is the MyWays success framework like learning to drive?

Picture a graduate of your school. What should each graduate know and be able to do? In the 21st century, a high school diploma (or passage from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school) needs to represent much more than proficiency on state tests and completing required courses. MyWays can help you identify a broader, deeper vision of success for your students.

The MyWays success framework includes 20 competencies organized into four domains. It pulls together education, work, and human development research and reflects insights from the innovative educators in the NGLC network. This framework is designed for students of all different academic abilities and backgrounds, including those who face the extraordinary challenges of intergenerational poverty and racial discrimination.

Educators can map and integrate other success frameworks they are using to the MyWays competencies.

Think about learning to drive a car. You need to develop the Content Knowledge to understand the rules of the road, what the floor pedals do, and what the dashboard is telling you; the Creative Know How to apply that knowledge and to pilot a car proficiently; the Habits of Success that are so essential to being a safe, aware driver; and the Wayfinding Abilities required to navigate to your desired destination.

We begin the short descriptions below with Habits of Success because they are the crucial underpinning to all of the other competencies. There is a common false dichotomy to be wary of, here: the most generally recognized MyWays domains (Content Knowledge and Creative Know How) do not comprise the “cognitive,” “hard,” or “academic” skills and the other two (Habits of Success and Wayfinding) do not comprise the “non-cognitive,” “soft,” or “social/emotional” skills.

In our view, students’ development of the competencies across each of the domains happens in holistic, inter-related and -dependent ways, and involves increased degrees of mastery in capability and agency. In fact, we define competence in any pursuit as the union of capability and agency, as we interpret both terms below and describe in the full MyWays report.


Habits of Success

Behaviors and practices that enable students to own their learning and cultivate personal effectiveness

  • Academic Behaviors - Key performance behaviors like going to class; participating fully; completing homework and projects; and managing time and resources

  • Self-Direction & Perseverance - Self-direction abilities including initiative, flexibility, and adaptability; perseverance abilities including grit, tenacity, and self-control

  • Positive Mindsets - “I belong in this learning community”; “My ability and competence grow with my effort”; “I can succeed at this task”; “This work has value for me.”

  • Learning Strategies - Study skills and strategies, goal-setting, self-regulated learning, help seeking

  • Social Skills & Responsibilities - Interpersonal skills, empathy, cooperation, and ability to build social networks, as well as ethics and leadership


Creative Know How

Skills and abilities to analyze complex problems and construct solutions in real-life situations

  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving - Ability to reason effectively, use systems thinking, and make judgments and decisions toward solving problems in educational, work, and life settings

  • Creativity & Entrepreneurship - The imagination, inventiveness, and experimentation to achieve new and productive ideas and solutions

  • Communication & Collaboration - Oral, written, and visual communication skills as well as the ability to work effectively with diverse teams

  • Information, Media & Technology Skills - Ability to access, evaluate, manage, create, and disseminate information and media using a wide variety of technology tools

  • Practical Life Skills - Ability to understand and manage personal finances, health and fitness, and emotional, spiritual, and other aspects of personal wellbeing to enable and support a productive, effective life


Content Knowledge

Subject area knowledge and organizing concepts essential for academic and real-life applications

  • English and Math Core - Deep English and math learning and application across settings as described in the Common Core State Standards

  • Science, Social Studies, Arts, Language - Well-rounded knowledge in other subject areas

  • Interdisciplinary & Global Knowledge - Global, cross-cultural, civic, environmental, and economic literacies

  • Career-Related Technical Skills - Academic, technical, and employability skills in at least one career area of interest


Wayfinding Abilities

Knowledge and capacity to successfully navigate learning, work, and life opportunities and choices

  • Surveying the Learning, Work & Life Landscape - The ability to research and understand information, resources, external barriers, and internal factors relevant to upcoming transitions

  • Identifying Opportunities & Setting Goals - The self-awareness, focus, and strategic thinking to cultivate individual strengths, identify and pilot opportunities, and set personal goals

  • Developing Personal Roadmaps - The ability to translate goals into action plans for each new stage or transition, especially the transition from high schooler to independent, contributing adult

  • Finding Needed Help & Resources - The ability to identify, locate, and secure the time, money, materials, organizations, mentors, and partners needed to support one’s plans

  • Navigating Each Stage of the Journey - The ability to implement plans in the worlds of learning, work, and life, making mid-course adjustments as required based on new experience

Student Agency

The skills and behaviors of the MyWays competencies are interrelated and interdependent. Learners develop competency by increasing their capability and agency.

  • Capability - Knowledge and the understanding to use it in real-life situations

  • Agency - A deep and durable self in charge of one’s learning and development


Student Profile

The MyWays whole-student competency plot creates a profile for individual students based on their strengths, needs, and goals. It displays all of the competencies at once. It can be tailored to your existing student success frameworks and may be used to create plans for growth.


Explore the Report

Read Part B of the MyWays Student Success Series, "Broader & Deeper Competencies for Student Success" to take a deeper look at this unifying framework.

See Examples

Check out how educators are using the MyWays competencies in their schools and classrooms.

Take the Next Step

Are you ready to do more with these ideas? Use the tools in "Exercise 1: Fine-Tune Your Community’s Definition of Success."